[Editor’s Note: We want to thoughtfully explore what is worth discussing in movies and shows. Spiritual and gospel themes are often embedded in what we’re already watching. By talking about something, Power to Change – Students is not giving an official endorsement, nor are we giving a ranking or judgment of overall quality. We simply desire to join the conversations that people are already having about #movies+shows.]
Have you watched the new Disney+ movie, Soul?
If not, you need to stop what you are doing and go watch the movie Soul. It is fantastic. Full stop.
One of the things that assures me that a movie has captured something particularly special, is if it challenges me. Am I still thinking about it days later? Or do I bring it up in conversation as a starting point with my friends?
I can’t stop talking about Soul.
I don’t know about you, but that’s why I watch movies. Not to simply be entertained (okay, sometimes that’s it), but to look deeper into the lives of other people. What makes them tick? Why do characters do the things they do? Feeling the feelings, experiencing the experiences, and asking the questions that movies ask, is the best part of the whole process.
Not since Inside Out has Disney nailed “the human condition” like they did with Soul. Having said that, watching Soul to determine your understanding of what happens after death may not be super helpful. If you get past the technical details about “heaven,” this movie drops you into an orchard of meaning, waiting to be harvested.
There are, as I have alluded to, an abundance of themes you could discuss watching this movie. Things like: What gives your life the spark that brings everything together? If you could fulfill your lifelong dream, what then? Could someone else live your life better than you? If you had a do-over, would you take it? How would you live differently? Like I said, SOOO MUCH! So where to begin?
Soul challenged me to question everything. In a good way. Why am I pursuing the things I am? What lies beneath my passions and my “spark”? Am I actually living my life or am I just a passenger on stand-by? I, for one, needed this reminder to not just spectate my life, but to pursue it with gusto. This perpetual groundhog day existence (tell me you know the reference), has lulled me, and likely you too, into a bit of survival mentality. I’m tempted to just get to the end of my responsibilities, so I can veg while I ride out the pandemic.
This feeling of autopilot can especially be true when applied to my spiritual life. Like waiting for others to steer my faith, like my pastor, my friends, or my parents. It’s hard to know how to pursue a life of faith for myself, so it’s easier sometimes to just maintain the status quo or just coast.
So what to do? Colossians 3:15-17 gives us a bit of a blueprint for how to combat this feeling. We are told to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” and to “[admonish] one another in all wisdom.” But most important is the encouragement that we should do everything, whether “word or deed…in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
This passage has discouraged me in the past, as someone who struggles with consistent Bible reading programs and chronic anxiety, and as someone who doesn’t necessarily think about God constantly in all my daily tasks. But recently, I have wondered whether I may have missed the point here.
I wonder whether Paul is less chiding me about where I am falling short, and more giving me insight on how to transform my life. It is very easy to view the world in a dualistic way of spiritual/non-spiritual. Doing the dishes and going to work doesn’t seem spiritual, while reading my Bible and praying is. What I think Paul is saying here is that what matters is my mindset. Driving around doing errands is no less connected to God than Bible study when done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
In the movie Soul, the main character Joe does something similar. He connects himself back to his passions and the reason for doing them, helping him view his world in a completely different light. In the same way I am exploring the difference my mindset makes in approaching my daily monotonous life through the lens of Jesus being right there with me.
This isn’t rocket science, or some esoteric knowledge that was missing from my life. I know that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and then. And if that reminder has a kickin’ soundtrack, cute characters, and is contained in a nice little movie package, all the better.